SDCC SPECIAL: How to Market Yourself at Big Cons

July 18, 2016

If you make it long enough in this business, cons will be a big part of your life. We make 90% of our income at cons, and the bigger the con the more we make.

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However, big cons mean more responsibility and more chance to be lost in the shuffle. So it’s even more important to be vigilant with your marketing. It’s so easy to be looked over at San Diego that if you don’t have a good strategy to stand out above the heard it could be a horrible investment for you.

I don’t want that to happen to you, so here is a list of my top ten tips for marketing yourself at a big con. This is social media heavy, but that’s my main strategy and it should be yours too.

1. Create a new avatar for your social media page

With every big con there comes a lot of imagery you can search for online to make a good avatar. A good avatar image is square, says the name of the con, and has a nice sized space to list your location and brand your avatar. This is the one we are using for SDCC.

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You can see that the title of the con is very visible, as is our logo, colors, and location. You want to make sure anybody looking for your booth knows where you are. This should be done a week or two before your con so that when people make their schedule of what to see, they can make sure to circle your books.

2. Create a new header image.

An avatar is great, but these big convention halls are enormous. Most people can’t find their way out of a hall let along navigate to your little booth. Therefore, you need a map as the header for your social media accounts with your exact location. On it, for bigger convention halls, you may have to blow up a part of the map so that you can narrow in on your location. This is the one we are using for San Diego Comic Con this year.

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You have to navigate these so they work with your avatar without blocking anything important. Because of our avatar we didn’t put anything below the image. However, you can see that we used the whole map, blew up our area, and then pointed to our location in that small area. The easier you can make it for your fans the better.

Additionally, you want to make this the pinned post on your social media pages so people don’t have to scroll to see it.

3. Schedule social media posts for the week before and the week of the event. You can’t do too many of the same or they will block you.

While you will be tweeting at the event, you want to make sure you have a base of tweets in case you get busy. I always get busy at cons and never have a chance to post when I want to post. So I make sure to schedule at least one post a day with my location in the week leading up to the con, and then three posts a day with my location during the con. That way even if I can’t get to my account, I am still active.

You can set this up through Buffer, Hootsuite, or many others.

4. Send your location to your mailing list with your free offer.

Make sure to also send your location to your mailing list. Most people don’t want to go to your social media account during a con, so if they can star your email it will help them remember to find you. With your mailing list update, make sure to include what you have going on at your booth, any freebies you are offering, and why they should come on by.

5. Create promo images using your booth location.

When you are making your social media posts you want to create unique images using your booth location. For instance, our booth this year is N-2, so all of our promos will have to do with the N-2 name, like “Get N-2 it!” or “Don’t forget to get N-2 Wannabe Press this week!”

Social media is stale and people don’t want to see the same thing rehashed over and over again. If you can create these promo images then you will be memorable in people’s minds. In a sea of 1,000 exhibitors, that is key.

6. Check the hashtags throughout the day of the event so that you know what’s trending.

I’m notoriously awful at this because I’m so busy at the con. However, different hashtags trend throughout the day on Twitter. When those hashtags trend, you should be using them because it’s the best chance you have of being retweeted and getting free publicity.

7. Update your website with a new header.

Don’t forget to update your website with your new header. For every person that opens your mailing list, and finds you on social media, there will be one that goes directly to your website. Make sure your map is as high on the site as possible.

8. Have a freebie to get people on your mailing list.

One of the biggest benefits to big cons is the amount of foot traffic that comes by your booth. However, if you don’t have a way to get that foot traffic onto your mailing list for future communications, you are missing out on a ton of future sales. This was the biggest failure of our booth last year. We ended up selling 350 books, making $5.500, and getting a grand total of 50 new sign ups. That’s horrible. We should have gotten at least 500. This year we have freebie buttons to make sure we get more than 50 people.

9. Work with friends to create a promo to get people to your booth.

This is something we are trying this year. We’ve made an indie passport with twelve total creators exhibiting at SDCC. Each one has a little circle with their booth name and number on it inside a round circle, which we will then stamp as people go from booth to booth. This is a great way to get your fans involved AND give them recommendations for cool booths. In a room of 1,000+ vendors, having some direction is incredibly helpful. I highly recommend working with your friends to try to drive traffic to each other’s booths.

10. Smile, look up from your table, and say hello.

If you so nothing else with your con experience, follow this advice. Looking down at the ground is not a good way to get people to interact with you. I know talking to people is hard for many of you, but it’s essential to making connections and making fans. Just looking up and saying hello is so important, asking them a question like “Do you like comics?” is even better.

There you have it. The main point is that you have to do something to stand out from the crowd. If you don’t you’ll drown in it, and that’s an expensive ocean to drown in.

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Hope it helped.

Russell

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